The recent all-format tour of the West Indies by Team India is now over. India received a break after the disappointing World Test Championship (WTC) 2023 final against Australia at The Oval, and they subsequently hoped for a simple trip of the West Indies. That wasn’t quite the case, though. India was able to completely control the Test matches, winning the two-match series 1-0. In the ODIs, they faced a stiff challenge but prevailed 2-1. The T20I series had the most shocking performance. They dropped the first two games, made a great comeback to win the following two, but were destroyed in the championship game. Five important lessons may be drawn from India’s disastrous visit of the West Indies.
1. Hardik Pandya has a long way to go as captain
Many experts predicted that Hardik Pandya would succeed Virat Kohli as the Indian team’s permanent T20I captain after he guided Gujarat Titans (GT) to victory in the Indian Premier League (IPL) the previous season. And even though he hasn’t been formally chosen as the national T20I squad’s captain, he has presided over nearly all of India’s T20I series matches since their defeat in the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.
The West Indies tour demonstrated that Pandya still has a ways to go before he can be considered a global leader. Many of his strategies were dubious. It was occasionally puzzling how he used or didn’t use Axar Patel. Mukesh Kumar, who participated in all five games but saw very little action, experienced the same thing. Pandya batted first in the decisive game when the series was on the line only for the sake of trying something new.
Some of the comments he made about India’s loss, the players’ attitudes, and his general views were rather odd. Pandya has the potential to be a good leader, but much work remains.
2. Lack of depth in India’s batting department
Rahul Dravid, the head coach of Team India, has acknowledged that the Men in Blue’s lack of depth is a significant problem that the think tank needs to address. India entered the T20Is with a seven-batter premise, but the flaws in their plan were shockingly revealed. They failed to reach the target of 150 in the first T20I in Trinidad, only scored 152 in the second game in Guyana, and were limited to a dismal 165 in the championship game.
Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Mukesh Kumar made up Team India’s top eight players. To his credit, Arshdeep was able to deliver a few solid strikes, but the other batsmen were essentially walking wickets.
3. No clarity over Sanju Samson and SKY
In order to better prepare for the World Cup, India wanted to understand where Suryakumar Yadav sits as an ODI hitter. Sanju Samson, a player for restricted overs at the international level, is similar. Unfortunately, even after yet another tour, the questions are still there for the Indian team management and selection.
The one-day format bat troubles for SKY persisted. In the three-match ODI series, he was dismissed for 19, 24, and 35 runs. Although there were glimmers of outstanding performances, they did not materialise. Suryakumar has openly acknowledged that he doesn’t feel embarrassed to remark that his one-day results are appalling. But that only partially resolves the issue. Suryakumar’s continuous excellence in T20Is has just made things more difficult. After a sluggish beginning in the first few games, he finished with scores of 83 and 61. Everyone can see his promise, but how long can he be supported despite his no-shows?
Samson is travelling in a same boat with his worldwide career. The gifted keeper-batter only managed one notable knock over the entire West Indies tour, despite being an outstanding wicketkeeper. at the decisive ODI at Trinidad, he made 51 off 41 with the help of two fours and four sixes. Samson’s other performances on the tour, however, were 9, 12, 7, and 13. His methods of firing people were also incredibly disappointing, usually consisting of gentle strikes. It is obvious that Samson is running out of time.
4. India might still need Kohli, Rohit in T20Is
Since the disaster in the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final in England, where the Men in Blue were destroyed by 10 wickets in Adelaide, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have not participated in a single T20I match. Rohit and Kohli’s time in T20Is appeared to be over with Pandya taking over in an unofficial capacity and India supporting their youthful guns. But following the outcome in the West Indies, that way of thinking might alter.
Nobody anticipated India to lose to the Windies in the way they did, even with some of their key players injured. Pandya had trouble with the bat, and Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill lacked consistency. The two T20I batsmen with the most experience in the current lineup are Rohit and senior pro Kohli. Thus, the Men in Blue might be persuaded to re-enter them into the running before the T20 World Cup the following year.
5. Jaiswal and Varma the future stars
The performances of newcomers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma were unquestionably two of the major pluses for the guests from the tour of the West Indies, to end on a strong note. In the Tests, Jaiswal batted courageously, making 171 on his debut and then 57 and 38 more runs after that. The left-handed player also brutally scored 84 unanswered in the fourth T20I.
With the bat, Varma was outstanding throughout the T20I series. He emerged under a variety of conditions, but he rose to each challenge and delivered for the team. Varma shown exemplary maturity for a 20-year-old. Jaiswal and Varma are still in the early stages of their careers, but the future certainly seems bright for them.